8 Surprising Design Ideas to Steal from the Hardware Store

From paneling a room with plywood to boat cleat "drawer pulls," these easy home improvement ideas are as inexpensive as they are innovative.

1. Birch Plywood

"My client wanted a masculine bedroom. So we paneled the walls with birch plywood - the kind you can get at any lumberyard - and it looks so modern, yet warm," says Peter Dunham.

Try: ¾" x 4' x 8' C-3 Birch Domestic Plywood, $45 per sheet. homedepot.com.

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2. Lightbulb Holder

"Lately, I've been drawn to these classic bare-bones, utilitarian single lightbulb holders. With a chrome-tipped or exposed-filament bulb, they look great in a bathroom or lining a long hallway. In a recent project, I clustered a dozen in a dining room," says Jeff Andrews.

Try: Leviton Porcelain Keyless Lamp Holder, $1.70 each. homedepot.com.

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3. Swivel Caster

"In smaller kitchens, I add heavy-duty casters to the table, so you can move it out of the way. I really like the industrial look, and the rubber won't scratch floors. The brake is essential to hold the table in place," says Steven Sclaroff.

Try: Richelieu Hardware General-Duty Swivel Caster with Brake, $6 each. homedepot.com.

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4. Ceiling Medallion

"A ceiling medallion will give presence to a crystal chandelier hanging from a vast, blank ceiling. They're easy to install. Then mix a little plaster into the paint to give it a chalky, timeworn look," says Lindsey Bond.

Try: Portfolio 169 White Ceiling Medallion, $27. lowes.com.

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5. Rubber Coating

"They sell Plasti Dip to coat tool handles for a better grip. But I've found so many more uses for it. I sprayed some on the bottom of a Jack Spade tote to make it more sturdy and water-resistant. And it's a great way to protect floors from scratches - better than those sticky felt pads that always fall off," says Shawn Henderson.

Try: Performix Plasti Dip Multipurpose Rubber Coating, $7 for 14.5 oz. homedepot.com.

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6. Boat Cleat

"I bought some stainless-steel boat cleats from a marine store and used them as drawer pulls on a vanity," says T. Keller Donovan.

Try: Suncor 49 Trimline Cleat, $12 each. westmarine.com.

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7. Tool Chest

"For a bachelor's apartment, we were looking for a masculine kitchen worktable and ended up with a canary yellow Sears Craftsman tool chest on casters. He can store his kitchen 'tools' in the drawers. And on top, there's a tray filled with liquor bottles to serve as his bar," says Neal Beckstedt.

Try: Craftsman 26½" 6-Drawer Ball-Bearing Roll-Away Tool Chest, in Yellow, $560. sears.com.

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8. Floor Lamp

"I came across this enormous steel floor lamp one day and brought it right home. It just looks so cool," says Gary Spain.

Try: Adesso Atlas Satin Steel 789 Floor Lamp (shown on left), $229. homedepot.com.

Related: Stylish Home Offices

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